Thursday, August 30, 2018

Autism Spectrum Quotient Questionnaire

The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ) is a questionnaire published in 2001 by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, UK. Consisting of fifty questions, it aims to investigate whether adults of average intelligence have symptoms of autism or one of the other autism spectrum conditions.[1] More recently, versions of the AQ for children[2] and adolescents[3] have also been published.

Read more about the questionnaire here at Wikipedia. 

Find it here. 

Proposed revisions to global diagnostic manual for autism raise concerns

“The definition of autism in ICD-11 and the one in the DSM-5 are not identical, but they’re very, very close,” says Michael B. First, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and a member of the committee that drafted the mental and neurodevelopmental disorders chapter of the ICD. “So it’s not likely that there’ll be significant differences in who gets labeled.”
However, the ICD-11 diverges from the DSM-5 in significant ways.
Among the most popular features of the DSM-5 is its prominent treatment of sensory abnormalities — such as over- or undersensitivity to sound and touch — among people with autism. The definition of autism in the ICD-11, by contrast, makes no mention of sensory abnormalities.

“Sensory issues may well be near universal in autism,” says Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. “If true, we should count it as a core symptom of the umbrella category.”

Siblings Could Shed Light on Roots of Autism

When Erin Lopes’ son Tommy was 15 months old, she became alarmed when he stopped saying “yes” and “no” and holding her gaze. It wouldn’t be until he was three years old that Tommy was finally diagnosed with autism.
Tommy had two first cousins on the autism spectrum, so Lopes suspected it ran in families. So she was relieved when her daughter Evee Bak, who was born 17 months after Tommy, was talking in full sentences by her second birthday. The toddler appeared to not be on the autism spectrum—what autism advocates today call “neurotypical.”
Erin’s children exemplify a question that’s mystified scientists for decades: Given that autism, a developmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact, is inherited in most cases, why do girls get it at much lower rates than boys? According to a 2011 study by an international team of psychiatrists and pediatricians, nearly one-fourth of brothers of autistic children were likely to be on the spectrum, but that rate dropped to 9 percent for sisters.
Scientists have historically focused on studying a “quartet” of two biological parents and two autistic children. Yet more recent research calls for learning more about the unaffected siblings – particularly girls. And in an era where researchers can map the human genome en masse—and have identified 100 genetic regions believed to be linked to autism—there is a need for lots of DNA data from autistic and neurotypical siblings alike.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Transition Toolkit Collection

From changes in school or work environment to changes in healthcare providers, transitioning can be both an exciting and a difficult time for individuals with autism and their families. Similarly, providers, such as educators, direct support professionals and specialists, may often wish they had the information necessary to help make these transitions as seamless as possible. Families and individuals are often thinking about and planning for transitions from the very beginning, and as individuals age, their needs may vary. Below you will find a collection of transition toolkits across the lifespan, organized by transition period from infancy through adulthood. This resource page is designed so you can find these toolkits in one place, making the journey a little easier. Click on the transition period you are interested in to view resources and toolkits available. 
Do you want to add a transition toolkit? Please contact us at or 

Are Motor Control and Regulation Problems Part of the ASD Motor Profile? A Handwriting Study

The primary aim of this study was to kinematically assess how children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) plan and control their handwriting actions. Forty-three boys aged between 8 to 12 years were included in the present analysis; 23 with ASD and 20 typically developing (TD) controls. Sophisticated objective and quantifiable assessment of movement metrics and dynamics was applied across a series of basic cursive handwriting sequences. Children with ASD demonstrated atypical control of handwriting metrics and dynamics, as well as significantly greater neuromotor noise relative to age-matched peers. They also engaged in less regular monitoring and regulation of their movement during the handwriting task. 

Overall, results revealed that even at a basic level, children with ASD appear to have a breakdown in their ability to control and regulate their handwriting movements. This has important implications for the school-aged child who constantly engages in handwriting tasks within the classroom environment and provides insight into possible directions for future intervention.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Diagnostic tests for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in preschool children

Primary objectives 
1. To identify which diagnostic tools, including updated versions, most accurately diagnose ASD in preschool children when compared with multi‐disciplinary team clinical judgement. 
2. To identify how the best of the interview tools compare with CARS, then how CARS compares with ADOS. 
a. Which ASD diagnostic tool ‐ among ADOS, ADI‐R, CARS, DISCO, GARS, and 3di ‐ has the best diagnostic test accuracy? 
b. Is the diagnostic test accuracy of any one test sufficient for that test to be suitable as a sole assessment tool for preschool children? 
c. Is there any combination of tests that, if offered in sequence, would provide suitable diagnostic test accuracy and enhance test efficiency? 
d. If data are available, does the combination of an interview tool with a structured observation test have better diagnostic test accuracy (i.e. fewer false‐positives and fewer false‐negatives) than either test alone? 

As only one interview tool was identified, we modified the first three aims to a single aim (Differences between protocol and review): This Review evaluated diagnostic tests in terms of sensitivity and specificity.

Authors' conclusions
We observed substantial variation in sensitivity and specificity of all tests, which was likely attributable to methodological differences and variations in the clinical characteristics of populations recruited. 
When we compared summary statistics for ADOS, CARS, and ADI‐R, we found that ADOS was most sensitive. All tools performed similarly for specificity. In lower prevalence populations, the risk of falsely identifying children who do not have ASD would be higher. 

The hidden danger of suicide in autism

Many people with autism entertain thoughts of suicide and yet show few obvious signs of their distress. Some scientists are identifying risks — and solutions — unique to autistic individuals.

Studies over the past few years hint that suicidal ideation is more common in people with autism than in the general population, but the estimates vary so widely that some experts say they are meaningless. Still, there is some evidence that autistic people are especially vulnerable to suicide: One 2015 study that mined Sweden’s large National Patient Registry found that they are 10 times as likely to die by suicide as are those in the general population. (Women with autism are particularly at risk, even though men are more so in the general population.)
Even when signs of suicidality are apparent, clinicians may dismiss them.

Accepting the Challenge: Effective Strategies for Students with Anxiety-Related Behavior

October 29, 2018

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that one in four thirteen-eighteen year olds has had an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Without intervention, these children are at risk for poor performance, diminished learning, and social/behavior problems in school. Understanding the role anxiety plays in a student's behavior is crucial and using preventive strategies are key to successful intervention. Effective behavior plans for these students must avoid the reward and punishment-based consequences from traditional behavior plans and focus instead on the use of preventive strategies and on explicitly teaching coping skills and alternative responses.

This workshop will translate clinical information into doable and easy-to-implement strategies, tools and interventions, for reducing anxiety, increasing self-regulation, executive functioning, and self-monitoring.

Find more information and register here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is there a link between autism and PCOS?

In a three-pronged study, UK investigators tested the hypothesis that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is linked with autism because both conditions are associated with elevated prenatal testosterone levels.

In Study 1, the authors found that a significantly higher percentage of women with autism were diagnosed with PCOS than the controls (2.3% vs 1.1%; unadjusted OR: 2.01, 95% CI 1.22-3.30). In Study 2, autism was almost two times more prevalent in PCOS cases than in controls (0.10% vs 0.05%; unadjusted OR: 2.01, 95% CI 1.26-3.20). In Study 3, mothers with PCOS had higher odds of having a child with autism than the controls (unadjusted OR: 1.60, 95% CI 1.28-2.00).

Read more here.

Friday, August 17, 2018

ADOS II Booster Training

Lewistown - September 28th, 2018
Yogo Inn

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This is a one day review of the ADOS 2 training complete with scoring practice and practical question review. Participants are required to bring their ADOS manuals for reference in scoring practice.
This workshop is presented by
Dr. Lauren Swineford.

Register here.

17 tips to help the transition back to school for kids with autism

1. Talk to your child frequently about what to expect in the upcoming year. It’s the simplest tip, and perhaps the most important one to help reduce your child’s anxiety.

2. Cross days off on your calendar. Some children may have anxiety about when the school year begins. Simply crossing days off the calendar may help your child better understand when the school year starts.

8. Write a letter outlining your child’s strengths, weaknesses, possible sensory issues, dietary restrictions, and favorite reinforcers. If possible, have your child help you create this document, as it will be invaluable input for school staff. Be sure to include a few things that are fun and unique about your child. A copy of this letter (one to two pages maximum) should go to your child’s teacher and aides, but should also be made available to any staff who work with your child. Remember to send a copy to the principal, assistant principal, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, physical education instructor, music teacher, etc. It is very helpful to teachers to have a “snapshot” of your child prior to instructing him or her. Don’t hesitate to brag as well!

Read more here at Autism Speaks.

Future Montana home for adults with autism

Proactive Living Facility , Inc is a Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (3) Assisted Living Facility.   The facility will be a licensed, Christian based assisted living facility that will be located in Ronan, Montana, in the heart of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Reservation.  This facility will be either a new building or a comprehensively renovated building, specifically designed and equipped to meet the needs to adults with developmental disabilities in a comfortable, secure location, irrespective of race or health condition.
Proactive Living Facility is a non-profit organization with skilled staffing coming from the area with any and all skills needed to provide above-mentioned needs of our clientele. We firmly believe and are passionate in ensuring that the developmentally disabled population of adults ranging in age from 18 to 45 are not lost in a society that is lacking housing options and services that provide those needs.  Our main focus in this facility will be adults with autism.

ASHA Discourages Use of Facilitated Communication, Rapid Prompting Method

Underscoring the importance of scientifically defensible communication interventions and citing shared concern about harm that could stem from baseless practices, the Board of Directors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has unanimously approved position statements that discourage the use of Facilitated Communication (FC), the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), and similar practices such as Spelling to Communicate—techniques where “facilitators” ostensibly elicit communication from individuals with disabilities.
These position statements strongly encourage the use of effective augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. The statements do not apply to independent typing.

ASHA first cautioned against the use of FC in 1995. Since then, multiple systematic reviews—the highest level of scientific evidence—have continued to show that the “facilitator” is doing the communicating.  ASHA’s position statement says that RPM is not recommended because of prompt dependency and lack of scientific validity.

Read more here.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Family history of immune conditions and autism spectrum and developmental disorders: Findings from the study to explore early development

Using data from a large multi‐site study in the US—the Study to Explore Early Development—we found that women with a history of eczema/psoriasis and asthma are more likely to have children with ASD or DD. In addition, children with ASD are more likely to have a history of psoriasis/eczema or allergies than typically developing children. These data support a link between maternal and child immune conditions and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Read more here. 

Autism and DDT: What one million pregnancies can — and can’t — reveal

Analysis finds that prenatal exposure to the pesticide is associated with a higher risk of severe autism with intellectual impairment.

Mothers with high levels of the pesticide DDT in their blood during pregnancy are more likely to bear children who develop autism, according to a study of blood samples from more than one million pregnant women in Finland.

Brown's team found no correlation between the PCB by-product and autism. But when they measured DDT by-product levels in the blood samples, they found that mothers with high concentrations of this chemical — those in the top quartile — were 32% more likely than women with lower DDT levels to give birth to children who developed autism. The likelihood that a child with autism accompanied by intellectual disability was twice as high in mothers with elevated DDT levels compared to those with lower levels.

Read more here at Nature.